Dear Chuck,

My husband and I just got married 4 months ago and got pregnant pretty quickly after our wedding. While we are so excited about becoming parents, the pregnancy was unexpected and now we are trying to build our financial lives together and prepare for a child. Any advice on how to save fast and what to prioritize during this season? We do have some student loan debt and a car payment. Thank you!

Expecting the Unexpected

 

Dear Expecting,

Congratulations! Babies are a gift from the Lord, and the fact that this one’s coming sooner than later is a reason to rejoice. Enjoy this time in your marriage to the fullest and be grateful!

This pregnancy can actually be used to help you financially as a precious motivator to become wise with your finances.

Adjust Your Mindset

To save fast, I recommend you live like your poor. This is a mindset that will help you make financial progress. Your goal is to become a saver, not just to practice saving! When you become a saver, it is a part of your lifestyle. Reject what the world says you need to be happy. If you have each other, friends, family, a church, and the Lord, you are already a very wealthy person. You can learn to be content in whatever situation you face! It’s truly a matter of giving thanks and trusting God.

…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)

We live in a time of great affluence and materialism. Especially with a baby on the way, the temptation to spend money is going to be great. Saving has proven to be difficult for many in our society. Self-control is required to say no to the easy credit and clever advertising that constantly bombards us. Protect yourself from the marketing schemes in social media. Satisfaction with what you have is key!

Practical Tips

Once you have the right mindset and attitude, you also need to follow some practical guidance.

Try not to spend.

Seriously! Don’t spend your money on ANYTHING that is not necessary for survival. This can be fun and challenging – but I’m assuming you are young and up for a challenge! Simply remember to always live beneath your income.

Stay on the same page.

Make sure you and your husband stay united in this pursuit. Pray together and seek the Lord’s guidance and protection. You’ll need to encourage one another to reach your goals. Set some short and long-term goals, and ask the Lord to help you reach them.

Have an emergency fund.  

It is very important that you establish an emergency fund with $1,000 as your first goal. This is essential because saving needs to become a way of life. It will protect you from the need to borrow, grant you the ability to invest, and allow you to give generously. By giving generously as first priority, it will help you make better financial choices in all the other areas of your budget.

Find good friends.

Friends can influence us positively or negatively. It is important to choose them wisely. Spend time with like-minded people who will encourage you on your financial journey. Plan ahead with potlucks, picnics, and fellowship that does not require much money. Serve others together when you can.

Buy used.  

Resist the temptation of having to buy all the baby stuff new. You can find great things on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Consignment shops and thrift stores can be a great source for baby items and maternity clothes as well. And don’t hesitate to borrow or accept hand-me-downs for you or your new baby!  

Find godly community.

As far as prioritizing, your relationship with Christ should come first. Get involved in a church and give generously. Serve with joy. Focus on your marriage and develop Godly friendships.

Pay off debt.

Set up a plan to pay off your debt while saving and avoid adding any more consumer debt.

I would pay off the car first or sell it and make it a policy to only drive safe, reliable used cars that you pay cash for. This will save you lots of money over the years.

After the car is paid off, attack the student loan debt. That may take a little longer but make sure you have a solid plan to get rid of it as soon as possible.  

Stay minimal.

You are entering the years when you begin to accumulate lots of stuff: toys, clothes, furniture and a bigger space to live in! As the space grows, the stuff usually expands as well. Try to look past the present and imagine the future before you bring more stuff home. Ask yourself:

  • How long will I need this?
  • Do I really need to buy it?
  • Can I figure out an alternative way to access this item or meet this need without purchasing it?

This will help you avoid the traps that bury so many young couples as they start their family.  

Stay in touch with us on Facebook! We hope you can stay on track as your baby arrives and you go through this joyful transition in life.

 

Originally published on the Christian Post, July 13, 2018

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